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How To Survive the Financial Cost of a Medical Emergency

Sara Tipton
March 25th, 2019
Ready Nutrition
Comments (26) Read by 2,199 people

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This article was originally published by Sara Tipton at Ready Nutrition

Medical emergencies often come out of the blue and have the potential to be devastating to not only your mental well-being but your finances. Because of the nature of these unexpected burdens, we’ve put together some steps that can be taken to survive the financial strain of an unforeseen medical emergency.

Studies have shown that medical emergencies are often an enormous burden on so many families. With 78% of Americans already living paycheck to paycheck, a medical expense that’s large and unexpected could destroy a family’s financial stability. In fact, about 2/3 of all bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical expenses. Often the cost is much more than families could ever hope to repay in a lifetime.

MEDICAL BILLS ARE LEADING CAUSE OF BANKRUPTCIES

The study we’re referring to was led by Dr. David Himmelstein, Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Hunter College and Lecturer at Harvard Medical School. It indicated that about 530,000 families each year are financially ruined by medical bills and sicknesses, according to the website Study Finds. It’s the first research of its kind to link medical expenses and bankruptcy since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010.

In a press release by the Physicians for a National Health Program, Himmelstein said of his findings, “unless you’re Bill Gates, you’re just one illness away from bankruptcy.” He added, “for middle-class Americans, health insurance offers little protection. Most of us have policies with so many loopholes, co-payments, and deductibles that illness can put you in the poorhouse. Even the best job-based health insurance often vanishes when prolonged illness causes job loss – just when families need it most. Private health insurance is a defective product, akin to an umbrella that melts in the rain,” says Himmelstein.

The research also shows that The Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare has done nothing to alleviate the medical pressure on families. There was very little difference in the proportion of bankruptcy filings related to medical expenses since the ACA passed. In all, 67.5% of debtors said medical costs contributed to their bankruptcy in the first three years from the start of the law, compared to 65.5% prior to its passing.

AVERAGE COST OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY

The average price of a medical emergency can cost some as much as one average mortgage payment. Findings from the John Hopkins School of Medicine suggest emergency room (ER) service charges can exceed Medicare rates for the same services sometimes by as much as 13 times the Medicare cost. When an emergency hits, people want the care immediately and hospitals are aware of this, making it much easier to take advantage of people and their insurance company financially. There is little one can do to stop ER departments from attempting to charge exorbitant prices for services. For those who don’t have insurance coverage, the rates can be even higher.

Once it’s all said and done, the timeframe for paying off the medical services used could be pretty long. But there are some “tricks of the trade” so to speak, to help you out. Depending on your scenario, there are multiple options at your disposal. The first and most obvious route to choose is to pay it off all at once.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR A MEDICAL EMERGENCY

If you have the means, pay off the entire balance at once and the hospital will give you a huge discount. This will save you money, often tens of thousands of dollars in the long run! You could also offer a large chunk of money upfront, which will help keep your costs down. But in order to do that, you’ll need to prepare for a medical emergency before it happens by setting up an emergency fund and stashing away some cash. Read this article for some tips to begin saving: 5 Simple Ways to Grow an Emergency Fund

You could also make sure your debts are minimal, or nonexistent before an emergency hits. This is difficult for so many because Americans, in general, have taken on historic levels of debt. But try paying off your debts then start using the money you were putting toward debt repayment to boost your emergency fund. Fewer payments going out every month most likely means you’ll have more money immediately at your disposal for your emergency fund. It also means you are more likely to be able to come up with cash to pay off the debt right away. (Remember, this could save you tons of money!) Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of knowing what it’s like to NOT live paycheck to paycheck. Just that added security could help relieve the mental stress of a medical emergency.

If you don’t have enough to pay cash for the services, you could always set up a payment plan. Keep in mind, the more disposable income you have (fewer debt payments, like car loans and credit cards) the higher monthly payment you can make getting you out from under the medical bills quicker. Because of interest, it is not recommended to make payments unless you have to and you can get payments set up interest-free.

Consider negotiating your payment plan, interest rate, and the overall cost of the medical services on your own. If you make it known that you’re going to have trouble paying back the cost, most hospitals will agree to work with you and your income.


The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her website at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

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Author: Sara Tipton
Views: Read by 2,199 people
Date: March 25th, 2019
Website: https://readynutrition.com/

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26 Comments...

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  1. Redflag says:

    The problem with paying medical bills is you have no choice. No choice in treatment, no choice in cost. Hospitals and their contracted services and physicians charge astronomical amounts for each and everything you have done. Paying these bills with personal funds at face value is unacceptable to most people. Choose instead to ask for the cash price. Keep saying you cannot afford to pay, and they will eventually (Like after 3 years) allow you to pay the actual cash cost of invoiced services. Your credit will take a hit, but you will remain solvent.

    • TharSheBlows says:

      Total BS, you can claim a hardship and dirt poor and tell them you are a cash Customer, and your get like up to a 80% discount on the price of a procedure. If you use insurance is where you really get screweddd.

      Just show no income and being poor, you may have a small out of pocket expense like $1000 for a $40,000 procedure. and write a letter of charity to the hospital and get qualified and this charity write off.

      And how do I know this? This is what I did for a Hernia, and I am like new again. Only about $1000 out of pocket. Once I got a letter of charity from the hospital I sent a copy to all medical billers and they just wrote it all off.

      Their real out of pocket is like 15% and therefore they like to write off 85% is losses. Its fraud really, by the Hospital but that gets you off the hook and keep our credit stellar.

      • Mike says:

        Had double hernia surgery done week after Thanksgiving. Insurance was billed $58K, they paid $17K. My out of pocket was $0. This was due to hitting my max out of pocket 6 months prior with a quad bypass.

        I had a lot of problems getting approved for the hernia surgery. Insurance refused imaging testing, teladoc recommended ER trip for imaging otherwise I was going to loose my left testicle. Since I hit my max out of pocket and doctor sent me to ER, insurance couldn’t deny it.

        I wouldn’t suggest the poor / hardship for a life threatening procedure like bypass or cancer (beat it twice). For the bypass insurance was billed $250K and paid $170K my out of pocket was $3K. I didn’t have a heart attack blockage was found during heart scan and echo-cardiogram stress test.

        I had a lot of problems with short term disability. They treated me like I was trying to run a scam. It was so bad I started recording the phone calls.

  2. Bert says:

    Again, your cure is wrong.

    How about eliminating 66% of medical emergencies.
    Maintain a healthy body weight.
    Exercise to make yourself sweat for 40 minutes daily.
    Cut all dairy, cut all alcohol and all drugs, cut nearly all animal proteins.
    Eat a diet high in fiber, 70g daily or more is a goal.
    Limit net carbs to 150g or less daily.

    • repr sleepr says:

      You can graze with the cows if that’s what you like, but I prefer chawing on a nice steak two inch porterhouse and I eat the gristle and fat as well. When I’m ready to hit the bone yard I want my marker to say, “He may be dead but he was always well fed”! And maybe wash it down with a little “shine”.

      • rellik says:

        Reper,
        I order my porters at 1″ thick so I get more from my steer.
        But you forgot butter sautee’d mushrooms, gravy covered potatoes/or rice, Salted cooked spinach, and Avocado, shrimp, lettuce salad, drowned in blue cheese dressing.
        Full disclosure My cholesterol is well within limits without using drugs, so I can get away with eating this way.
        I’ll skip the shine, but I’ll down a six pack of decent beer.

  3. rellik says:

    A rather confusing article.
    Is the author talking about un-insured people?
    Or what?
    My sister runs the billing department of a major
    hospital. They don’t make “deals”.
    You pay the bill or it goes out for collection.
    That is who you deal with, a collection unit.
    To make “deals”.
    Because of the Bankruptcy issue I make sure my wife and I
    have insurance even though we are both retired and
    not yet eligible for medicare. I’m enrolled in the
    VA medical system. She gets subsidized Kaiser medical
    that we pay a lot for.
    I’m debt free and own my home so that is really
    what I’m insuring.
    If you are living paycheck to paycheck, are renting
    and don’t have medical insurance coverage, Bankruptcy
    is the least of your problems.

    • If you must, pay $50 a month on that medical bill even if a collection is hassling you, and in a few months, you will get a settlement agreement…to pay usually $100 and it is written off. I did this in 2011 and 2015 when I broke my toes and sprained my ankle. I had no insurance and wasn’t 65 yet, so no medicare.
      I’ve done it twice and no problems…oh, yeah, my credit score recently jumped from 819 to 822.
      And like a poster above, I am 68 and take not ONE prescription drug.
      I take black cohosh for night leg spasms/acid reflux and melatonin for sleep aide.

      Now, do I feel like a free-loader?? Oh, yeah, every time I read about those sanctuary cities for illegals.

    • Oldguynorth says:

      I own my home & property free & clear from a mortgage. I put the home into a limited liability company (LLC), so I “rent from the LLC”, so any legal liability I may acquire reflects on me, not my home. I did this when the (un) Affordable Care Act was implemented, I was concerned my home could be seized through medical issues. Cost me about $1250 through an attorney, and about $85 annually. It also protects against any suits brought against you as an individual.

      • Hawkeye says:

        Obviously you have a business because a person cannot just open up an LLC to protect their home in this fashion. So it really is not feasible and are you paying taxes on the rent you are getting charged by your LLC?

  4. dead reckoning says:

    number one–put your home in a name other than yours! The first thing a medical collection agency will do is look for seizable assets. Set up a simple trust or family limited partnership so if you get seriously ill you will at least have a home to come back to. If you are too stupid or cheap to do that, at least encumber your assets so the collection agency will have to get in line behind the mortgage company or Heloc loan. Keep your money in cash or hideable assets like gold or Bitcoin.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If the hospital dont get your money the nursing home will.

    “Live hard die young leave a beautiful corpse”
    Quote …wrongly attributed to James Dean
    Actually by John Derek from the movie “Knock on any door”

  6. The doctor gave me 6 months to live. I told him I couldn’t pay the bill. So he gave me a year.

  7. john stiner says:

    How about give the E.R. a fake name and social security number.

    My name is Jose Stinerio…… send me a bill.

  8. Oldguynorth says:

    Exactly, know a retired veteran who has trouble getting medical attention, but tell them you’re Juan from Mex city & it’s “come on down.” Illegals should go to the bottom of the list, sorry, Citizens first.

  9. Justice says:

    I have not invested enough resources into my SHTF medical kit/supplies. I don’t know why I neglect this vital area because it’s importance is self evident. I have to tray and add one item per month to my med kit.

    With that in mind I just bought: QuikClot Advanced Clotting Gauze – 3″ x 24″ This fill a void and is important if someone gets a long cut.

    • repr sleepr says:

      Get yourself at least one tourniquet and learn how to apply it. I got one in each of the family members packs and two in mine. Get yourself some Israeli bandages too. Remember that anything that has a clotting agent impregnated into it has a shelf life. The tourniquet does not and can be used over and over again.

      • Warchild Dammit! says:

        For tourniquets go with the red tabbed cat 7’s,a breeze to use which will be helpful in trying times,nothing else a torn up shirt will work in a pinch for arterial wounds,buy time till better care available….hopefully.

  10. You know that it isn’t just for when the shtf that we need medical supplies and medical knowledge. There are so many ways of preventing major medical bills.

    Infections can be life threatening, but most are avoidable. Just cleaning your little cuts and scrapes is often all that is required.

    If people keep their feet clean, they can avoid foot problems before they start.

    Reduce sugar intake and lose the excess weight. Diabetic emergencies, heart attack and stroke, dementia are all avoidable.

    This is controversial and I don’t want to argue but there are studies showing that high cholesterol is associated with longevity. Pill poppers are dying like flys.

    The next pill that’s going to wreck havoc is going to be a smart pill. Be smart and don’t take it.

    There’s a joke my dad told me about the factor who sold rabbit shit as a chewable smart pill. When the patient takes it he says “It tastes like rabbit shit”. To which the doctor replied, “See, you’re smarter already”!

    .

  11. paquo says:

    True story. I went skiing one day in early january, took a spill , not too bad but damn i couldn’t move anything except a few toes and fingers. $500,000 in hospital bills and 3 months later i can walk again. My hands are about 75% and my balance is off, i will never ski or ride a motorcycle again but that’s ok. Insurance paid for all but 10 k of it but i hear the hospital may give people without insurance 30 percent off. I guess post shtf i would have been a goner.

  12. repr sleepr says:

    Yep, youda been death sucking on a lifesaver.

  13. The Other Guy says:

    I love that: I’m gonna get a roll of lifesavers for each of my bug out bags….

  14. Rick says:

    When I see my local hospital parking lot full of loaded top of the line new model Porsche, Masarati, BMW, Mercedes I realize it is my duty to never pay anymore than 10% of my bill as an offer of compromise. It works extremely well. Negotiate with the financial dept of your hospital. Tell them they will get zero or 10% payoff.

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